Haskell hurts Wasps
Forward’s late dismissal causes collapse which has put progression on line
James Haskell was sent off for a dangerous tackle as Wasps collapsed to a dramatic 33-28 defeat by Harlequins that all but ends their European Champions Cup quest.
Haskell flattened Jamie Roberts with a shoulder-high challenge in the 76th minute that was also late, receiving a straight red card from referee Roman Poite and ending the groggy Wales centre’s afternoon.
The England flanker faces a suspension that could affect his availability for the Six Nations, but his more immediate concern will be Wasps’ implosion at Twickenham Stoop. Leading 21-0 after 30 minutes, they leaked a succession of tries, grabbed the bonus point, before falling apart once again as touch downs from Danny Care, Elia Elia and James Chisholm completed a remarkable fightback by Quins.
Harlequins’ interest in Europe was extinguished long ago, they had lost all four previous matches in Pool 1, but a team weakened by injury and suspension fought to the end and were rewarded.
Meanwhile, Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss praised his side’s battling qualities after yesterday’s hard-fought 20-13 triumph over La Rochelle.
The result at a wet and windy Kingspan Stadium put the Irish province – whose tries were scored by Rory Best, Jacob Stockdale and Nick Timoney – top of Pool 1 and in with a good chance of reaching the quarter-finals for the first time since 2014.
“The boys turned up in a real vicious mood, similar to Harlequins (17-5 win on December 10) and we did that (a similar performance) again,” he said.
A bonus-point win for Ulster in the final round of group games at Wasps next week will guarantee them a top-place finish, though La Rochelle’s losing bonus point from Belfast could also prove crucial for their ambitions.
Olly Woodburn scored two tries as Exeter kept their hopes alive with a crushing 41-10 bonus-point win over Montpellier at Sandy Park.
The win moved Exeter one point ahead of Montpellier in Pool 3 but they are still five points behind leaders Leinster, who play their game in hand at home to winless Glasgow today.
Dave Ewers, Sam Simmonds, Don Armand and Nic White were Exeter’s other try-scorers with Gareth Steenson adding three conversions and Joe Simmonds one – he also kicked a last-minute penalty.
Eliminated Northampton secured back-to-back wins in all competitions for the first time since September as they inflicted a first Champions Cup defeat of the season on Clermont Auvergne, running in five tries to prevail 34-21.
+14 points difference for Wasps after last night’s game
Seeing red: James Haskell (c) of Wasps is sent off for his late challenge on Jamie Roberts of Harlequins.